15-year-old Finds Error in 33-year-old Boston Museum Exhibit

Joseph Rosenfeld of Winchester, Va. found a mistake in an equation of the 'Golden Ratio' that was hanging in the museum since 1981.

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John Handley High School sophomore Joseph Rosenfeld, June 23, 2015.Credit: AP

A 15-year-old visitor at the Museum of Science in Boston found a mathematical error in one of the museum's displays, Boston.com reported Monday.

John Handley High School sophomore Joseph Rosenfeld of Winchester, Va. visited the museum while visiting family in Boston. While at an exhibit called “Mathematica: A world of numbers and beyond,” Boston.com reported, he noticed that an equation describing the ‘Golden Ratio’ was wrong, having plus signs instead of minus signs. The exhibit was created by two designers, Charles and Ray Eames, and has been on display since 1981. The museum’s website states that the display was created “to provide an opportunity for everyone to enjoy the wonder of mathematics as well as the beauty of post-modern design.”

Joseph noticed the mistake, at first thinking he may be wrong, and reported it by leaving a message at the front desk. He left no contact information but his aunt later contacted the museum. The museum sent a letter to the family, in which it admitted to the mistake and promised to correct it. The museum released a statement on Tuesday, commending Rosenfeld for his keen eye. It also added that the museum presents the Golden Ratio in a less common way which is nevertheless accurate.

The museum has invited Joseph to come and see another of its exhibits which features a lot of math content. Math and sciences are favorite subjects with Joseph, who wants to go to MIT.